Thundering down the stairs in her new Doc Martens Lizzie lurched into the dining room and shouted “that's me away” knowing there wasn't much chance she'd be able to leave without some comment. From the kitchen beyond, where she could hear the distinctive sound of the pressure cooker building up a head of steam, came the call of “wait a minute madam, where do you think you're going?” Her mother emerged from the engine room of the house where she spent most of her time, washing, peeling, chopping, cooking. Lizzie had timed her escape in the hope that the various stages of making a meat and potato pie for her grandmother would mean she was too busy to bother with her daughter. She was too busy to bother with her daughter most of the time after all, Lizzie knew somewhat bitterly, unless it was to criticise her and threaten her with her father's disapproval while kid brother Graham could do no wrong. Wiping her hands on a tea towel Lizzie's mother took up her usual position at the kitchen door dressed as always in her sensible shoes, floral dress and flour covered apron.
“I'm just going to Rachel's”
“Not dressed like that you're not.”
Lizzie tried not to smirk knowing it would further antagonise her mother and elicit the familiar threat of “wipe that look off your face or I'll wipe it off for you.” What amused Lizzie was that her outfit was she a massively toned down version of what she would be wearing later for the gig. Her docs, tight black jeans, black t-shirt and her Harrington jacket. Already planted at lead singer and rhythm guitarist Gary's house were a customised torn t-shirt with zips, safety pins and the band's name, Hell Bent Bitches, scrawled across in scarlet lipstick along with her bass and Jez's leather jacket. To finish the look she'd be back combing her hair and adding striking black eye make up in the style of her idol Siouxsie Sioux. Her own mother wouldn't recognise her, not that she would ever set foot in the kind of pub where they were playing their debut gig, supporting The Akryliks. Luckily Rachel's parents didn't have a phone and her friend was used to her company being given as cover for band practices.
“I can't have Rachel's mother seeing you dressed like that, what will she think? She sits in the next pew and she's very good friends with the minister's wife. What will people think of me? It'll be round the congregation before Sunday. Upstairs with you and get into something where people can at least see you're a girl.”
Before Lizzie could think of a smart answer her grandmother appeared fresh from holding power in the front room, probably needing to supervise the pie making or wanting another cup of tea or, Lizzie suspected, she'd heard the raised voice and came to put her oar in. Every Thursday was the same, Graham couldn't watch Blue Peter and Lizzie couldn't watch Top of the Pops because her grandmother controlled the tv, and it was the same meal, meat and potato pie with Yorkshire puddings week in week out. Her grandmother took one look at her and began cackling like the old crone that she was, Lizzie thought, knowing if she'd taken to the stage she'd have been a natural for any production of Macbeth.
“Is it Hallowe'en already or are you auditioning for a freak show? You look like a fright, what's the matter with you girl? What's happened to your hair, you could be so pretty if you just tried, look at...” Lizzie knew what was coming next, she'd heard it before, once or twice; she was about to be compared to her cousin Carol. What a lovely girl Carol was, so clever, so pretty, so docile, the shining example of everything that Lizzie wasn't.
Trapped by a very familiar pincer movement, Lizzie looked from the scowling face of one woman to the other. She'd had years of this, the disapproval, control, look like this, don't look like that, are you going to let her speak to me like that, wash out her mouth with soap and water. Lizzie had vented her pent up anger in a song and later on at The Fox and Hounds Gary would be shouting her lyrics to a crowd of pogoing punks. It was time to leave. She took a deep breath and moved past her grandmother and away from her mother towards the front door, behind her their voices winding up to a shrill chorus along with the pressure cooker.
“Are you going to let her go out of this house like that? Looking like that? What will the folks at the Darby and Joan say next week?” the words went on “Don't you dare leave this house young lady, get yourself upstairs, you haven't had any tea apart from anything else.. just wait till I tell your father about this.. and don't think you're coming back here later if you go out of that front....”
But Lizzie had left the building.